More Bands Look To Give Reasons To Buy

from the fun-to-see dept

I have to admit, it’s been really fun to watch various bands experiment with neat new ways to give people real reasons to buy — each one different than the last, but each one equally as creative. What’s really cool, too, is how many different musicians (both well-known and not so well-known) have been reaching out to us lately, to share their own experiences, and to talk about how this site and the various talks I’ve given have inspired them to experiment further. It’s really humbling to see so much creativity in action. Here are two more examples.

The first is that the band the Flaming Lips are offering both free studio downloads with any concert tickets, but also a promise that they’ll send you a link after the show you attend to download that recording as well. The band is clearly recognizing that it’s the concert ticket that matters, and the actual music just makes that ticket more valuable (infinite goods increasing the value of scarce goods… where have we heard that before…).

Then there’s the band Health, who has a new album coming out, and in order to convince people that it’s worth buying the actual album, they’ve put special prize tickets in 66 of the albums. The tickets grants the buyers certain unique prizes, including the grand prize of a weekend in LA to hang out with the band (including round-trip flight, and hanging out with the band at an amusement park and the zoo). Other prizes will get you (among other things):

personal gifts, t-shirts, locks of a band member’s hair, fur from a band member’s cat, and posters or records signed by the band in their own blood.

After that, there are a bunch of other oddities:

  • We will get steadily inebriated with you over i-chat while working on a project together
  • A historical themed phone call from the band
  • A recording of BJ (band member) covering a 90’s song of your choice
  • A recording of a short story read by a band member
  • We’ll personalize your voicemail greeting
  • A bouquet of flowers from the band
  • An astrological consultation with Jupiter’s mother
  • A copy of John Famiglietti’s student film
  • An uplifting phone call from Health’s manager
  • A personality test hand completed by a band member
  • A bag of Jupiter’s cat hair, plus a photo of her
  • BJ’s old little league jacket
  • A childhood toy
  • Knitted scarf made by Jake’s Mother
  • Band member fingerprints
  • Mixed tape/cd hand decorated by the band
  • Health’s high school band’s cd mixtape
  • A painting by John’s mother
  • Learn a magic trick from our manager via video chat
  • We conference crank call a prominent indie musician together

In many ways, this is like Josh Freese’s unique offering, but rather than getting people to buy the big prizes, you just buy the album with a chance to win those packages. Yet again, another band having fun, connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy. Hmm… I wonder if these ideas can inspire more options for our own little CwF + RtB experiment.

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Comments on “More Bands Look To Give Reasons To Buy”

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Paul (profile) says:

HEALTH is one of my favorite upcoming bands. I’d like to point out as well that before they even announced this contest that they had three different options for ordering their latest album. Each came with a bumper sticker, 4 pins, a poster, a tote bag, a T-shirt, and then your choice of music media (LP, CD, Mp3 for $40, $30, and $20 respectively). So this is all just an added bonus! pretty sweet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Cold Play, or as I like to call them “the poor man’s U2”, recently gave everyone who attended their Raleigh show a copy of their album.

For a band that annoys me sonically, I have to give them points.
Although I won’t let my wife play it on the computer in case it’s another root kit sabotage. I still don’t buy Sony products!

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Laws for giveaways

The advantage of putting golden tickets in some sales items is that you don’t have to giveaway prizes to everyone who buys your stuff.

But the reason a lot of companies don’t do this when they sell cereal, toothpaste, etc. is that there are rules for this sort of thing. That’s why when you see contests like this, you’ll see that small print that says “No purchase necessary.” You can become eligible for the free stuff by sending in a card.

So if enough bands start to do this and aren’t giving people to option to win stuff without buying the CD, the trend may attract the attention of the governments that monitor this sort of thing.

I went looking for an example of the rules and found this which is kind of related to the idea.

If you do a Google search for — prize tickets laws promotions “golden tickets” — you’ll find more examples that say “no purchase necessary.”

And of course, the “get a free CD when you buy a show ticket” plan got a lot of attention when Prince did it. I suppose it’s an option for all bands. It’s certainly a legitimate idea. Similarly, “come to a show and get free downloads of the show” also is the norm with some bands.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Laws for giveaways

I should add that the “free CD” or “free show recording if you come to a show” is a nice gesture, but probably isn’t in itself the compelling factor for people buying tickets because, like all recorded music, it will be copied and made available online. You don’t actually have to go to the show if all you want is the recording.

Something that you are given at a show that isn’t so easily copied might be a more compelling souvenir it that’s what you are after to give to your fans. Vinyl. Or signed copies of the CDs. That sort of thing.

scarr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Laws for giveaways

Think of it like taking pictures when you go on vacation. It isn’t the digital copy that is valuable. Offering the recording for free (and/or included in the price of the ticket), is a great way to combine something transient (the performance itself) with something to help you remember and relive that experience.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Laws for giveaways

Sure. The CD is something tangible. That’s why people still buy them.

I’m just looking at the finer points of offering a CD with a ticket as a way to sell the ticket, versus separating the two so that fans can buy the ticket, buy the CD, or buy the ticket and then get the CD signed at the show.

This sort of thing is discussed by every band that is putting out CDs and selling show tickets. So you look at it from all angles.

Bands that play more shows than have CDs available can’t really offer a free studio CD with each ticket because after one round of shows, all their fans will have the CD.

Offering a download of the show with the ticket is fresher option because it’s a new recording with each show. But then again, some bands encourage their fans to record at the shows and make those available for free so there are bootlegs floating around. There’s no need to offer show recordings to fans because they can get them anyway.

Phish is currently making their show recordings available to anyone who signs up. You don’t need to go to the show to get the recording.

scarr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Laws for giveaways

You threw “CD” into the discussion here, so your arguments against it aren’t furthering anything.

Nobody says the Flaming Lips can’t (or aren’t) offering those show recordings to everyone. Having fans bootleg will result in poorer quality than if the band records the house mix direct from the board, so that helps them. It also tells the fans they don’t have to deal with the hassles of recording themselves. It says, “come, relax, have fun, enjoy the show, and we’ll deliver a recording in your inbox the next morning.” For a rather paltry cost, it’s a big value add.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Laws for giveaways

You’re right. I threw in the CD.

But the point is the same. You’re saying that Flaming Lips is doing their fans a favor by giving them free downloads. Sure. But those free downloads will also be available to those who don’t go to the show. So the downloads aren’t exactly a reason to buy a ticket to the show.

People are going to buy a ticket to the show because they want to go to the show. The free download doesn’t have any “value” as such because it will be on the internet for everyone whether or not they buy a ticket.

scarr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Laws for giveaways

It would be valuable to me if I could download audio of the shows I’ve attended over the years.

I understand your argument is that it wouldn’t push people to attend because of that, but I’m not sure that’s true for everyone. Some people would like it from an “I was there” standpoint. Others might be more likely to go because they know it wouldn’t be a fleeting event that they might forget in a few years. The event now has longevity. If nothing else, it breeds favour with the fans (CwF), which will make them more likely to want to see the band perform. “Because you like the person/band” is a valid reason to buy.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Laws for giveaways

Your arguments are why people go to shows. They want the experience. If they want to see Flaming Lips, they are going to see them whether or not there’s a free download to go along with it. The download is handy, but I doubt that Flaming Lips fans would NOT go to a show if it weren’t available.

That’s the point I am trying to get across. The “reason to buy” is the show experience itself, not the download that goes along with it.

Are there any artists where people say, “I wasn’t planning to go, but, hey, since I can get a free download, so that makes me want to go”?

The psychology of music fandom is interesting. Where the value added part comes in is if you can sell a hardcore fan a sweatshirt for $100 that cost $20 to make. But a free show download, that people will be able to find online the minute it is released, won’t be the reason people buy a ticket to a show. Either they want to be at the show anyway, or they aren’t going to go.

Where you might find ways to convert some fence sitters is on show price. People who might not go to a show for a $50 ticket might go to a show for a $10-$20 ticket.

But a free download, no. It can be mass produced and has no unique value to its owner. The fact that they can say they were at the show IS the value. Not the download. There’s no way real way to make that download exclusive to the people who were there.

scarr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Laws for giveaways

“There’s no way real way to make that download exclusive to the people who were there.”

It already is different for the people who were there. It has meaning to them. That meaning gives it worth.

It’s not going to change whether hardcore fans go. Their attendance was already guaranteed though. It might pull some people who are uncertain onto the side of attending though. If I wasn’t sure if I should pay to see a show or not, knowing I would have something to remember it by might push me towards going.

Flip the order around here, and you might get what I see. Wouldn’t you (or most) prefer if people offered free downloads of the live shows you (they) attend? If you would prefer that, then there is some value to you. If it has value, it can change your decisions. (I believe some people would voluntarily pay for such a privilege.)

As an example, say two bands are coming to town, but you only have the cash to see one. If they are otherwise the same (e.g. same price, you like them both as much, etc.), are you more likely to see the one that gives you something to remember what you experienced that night, or the one that plays and is gone? I would put my money with the long-term option.

At the very least, it does no harm to the band and gains them some more goodwill with fans.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Laws for giveaways

I went to a concert (at a small venue) where the musicians burned CDs of the concert and signed and sold them for $15. People lined up pretty deep to buy them so it was working. Tangible product, cannot be pirated, connecting with fans, and it’s a recording of the show you actually went to. Great plan! Doesn’t work for big venues though.

Joe says:

Re: Re: Laws for giveaways

“but probably isn’t in itself the compelling factor for people buying tickets”

No offense Suzanne, but it’s pretty obvious that a free CD is not incentive to go to a show. It is about turning fans into megaphones and generating that mojo Mike preaches. And let’s be honest, after 70 bucks for a ticket… a CD is the least they can hand out.

It truly is all about finite vs infinite goods.

Jono says:

darkest hour album release competition

another band that has recently done a same thing to promote their album launch is darkest hour. its a really good way to promote people buying music and getting more than just the disc and casing. the competition was as follows

On June 23rd, DARKEST HOUR’s new opus, The Eternal Return, will be in stores. In every copy will be a special Victory Metal insert with a unique code printed on the back.

Fans can come back on June 23rd to and enter that code along with their name, email and mailing address.

If they are are an instant winner of THE ETERNAL GIVEAWAY, then they may choose one of the amazing prizes listed below.



Prizes include (with more to be added!):

-DARKEST HOUR will play your house party!
-Challenge DARKEST HOUR in any sport of your choice (Kickball, softball, whatever you want!)
-Tickets, backstage passes and pizza w/ DARKEST HOUR on their fall tour for you and a friend.
-Mike Schleibaum signature series Washburn Guitar
-Eden Bass Amplifier
-Randall guitar Amplifier
-Gretsch Drums snare drum
-Iron Fist clothing giveaways ($250 each)
-Framed original artwork for THE ETERNAL RETURN and a full DARKEST HOUR catalog.
-Handwritten copy of The Eternal Return lyrics signed by the band & -DARKEST HOUR catalog on CD.
-BBQ with the band on a Summer Slaughter date
-Introduce band onstage in your town
-Soundcheck with DARKEST HOUR (instrument of choice)
-Autographed DARKEST HOUR discographies on LP and CD
-$100 of DARKEST HOUR merchandise provided by Victory Records
-“Golden” Laminates – to get you into the next DARKEST HOUR show for free in your town
-First 25 prize winners are given free membership (1 year) to the DH fansite “Circle pit crew”
-All others who purchase a disc with The Eternal Giveaway insert will be given a 10% discount coupon

barrenwaste (profile) says:

Good ideas, but the bands are doing it backwards. What they need to do is offer concert tickets in CD’s, as the cd’s are the medium that is flagging. The shows, personal momentos, and hang time with the band should be used to sell T-shirts, cd’s, mugs, hats, key-chains, and etc. The key is that social interaction with the band and invitations to hear thier music are far more valuable than physical items. I’m sure everybody can put the parts together from here.

Overcast (profile) says:

T-shirts, concert tickets, contests (like for backstage passes or after concert parties), coffee cups, ‘limited edition CD’s’, posters, pictures, bonus DVD’s..

There are lots of ‘extras’ that customers have purchased in the past and will continue to.

For many, many years Radio has used ‘contests’ to drawl customers to a product that was in no way ‘limited’ (any city in the US has multiple radio stations)…

Doesn’t seem particularly hard to me. Dunno – radio’s a good example though.

They could do some contests that are HIGHLY appealing to fans – the fan likes the *band* right?

Contest for “dinner with the band”
Contest to go on 2/3 shows with the band as a guest, etc.

The chance at winning could be tied directly to MP3 purchased online or retails CD purchases, whichever. But for many, there would be no question they want a ‘chance’ at it. Maybe even 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 + – depending on how big of a fan they are.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Keep in mind that in most cases you can’t do a contest tied to a purchase. If you have to buy something to be eligible to win, that is considered a lottery and you have to get special permission to run it.

Radio competitions and the like are open to everyone. No purchase required.

That’s why you don’t see more companies doing this. If it isn’t going to help them sell their products, they don’t see the value in doing it.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Here’s another link.

If you take a marketing/advertising course in college, it will cover promotions and the pros and cons of various options. Sweepstakes. Buy-one-get-one-free, free offers, rebates, and on and on.

As people toss out ideas about how to save the music business, and if these ideas have already been used in other businesses, I try to find examples to share with people. If they have already been done successfully many times, there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel. Just go to other industries and learn from them.

And if they have been tried by other industries and have been proven to be more trouble than they are worth, then learn from that, too.

While the music business may be decades behind marketing being done in other industries, often the proposed solutions are also decades behind. Let’s dig deeper and really look at all these ideas from a variety of angles.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

While it might be the case that some of these solutions have been tried in other industries, there’s always a chance that those experiences don’t generalize to the music business. So, I say let bands, labels, etc experiment and then we can analyze the data.

Instead of always saying this won’t work or that won’t work, let’s just see what works.

Also I don’t think anyone is claiming that any one of these solutions is going to save the music industry…RtB might be an overarching strategy, but these manifestations of RtB could be completely wrong…of course, if we don’t try them, then we’ll never know.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Instead of always saying this won’t work or that won’t work, let’s just see what works.”

Yes, there is a lot of experimentation among bands. The next step is copying what works, or comparing notes on what doesn’t.

That’s why I’m always pushing for details. I talk to bands all the time. We compare notes on whether putting up posters works, where to get the best prices on T-shirts and what sizes to get, how much people are getting in show guarantees, etc.

The day-to-day music business is practical, more than theoretical. So it’s very useful to have as much real world experience as anyone will share. The other reason it is important is that very few bands have excess cash. For every dollar you spend on one thing, that’s a dollar you don’t have to spend elsewhere. So if a band says to you, “We lost money,” or “We broke even, but it really wasn’t worth the time,” then you want to know about it to factor it into your own plans.

That’s why, whenever anyone tosses out an idea, I generally ask, “How did it work?” “Would you do it again?” “What was the ROI and does it scale?” and so on.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Keep in mind that in most cases you can’t do a contest tied to a purchase. If you have to buy something to be eligible to win, that is considered a lottery and you have to get special permission to run it.

Yes. This is the same reason why we haven’t included something like this in our own experiment. We wanted to, but after exploring the law, we did not.

I’m not sure how it works in cases of “magic tickets,” though, which is what’s being done here. I can see why it doesn’t apply in cases of “we’ll pick a winner.” But perhaps it’s legal in that it may be included as an extra in what you buy? I don’t know…

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